I imagined gliding on the ice in a gorgeous costume or tumbling expertly on mats. (Ironic, because I’ve been clumsy my entire life.) I was mesmerized by the flawless feats managed in tons of snow. The gymnasts brought tears to my eyes at times, with their beauty and grace.
It has always been something about the Olympics. Well until this year.
The hype and fairy tales of the Olympic athletes have been overshadowed with disappointment and disturbing stories about Sochi, Russia. I’ve never heard of Sochi until the town was selected to host the Olympics.
I usually take Saturday Night Live skits with a grain of salt, but the bit on Weekend Update featuring Olya Povlatsky (aired February 1st) seems to be dead on. The segment was kind of funny, more telling than anything. I still have to ask if anyone did any research on Sochi before the city was selected to host the Olympics. What made Sochi, in a country rooted in intolerance, qualified to host an event that brings all nationalities and countries together in one place? What makes Sochi deserving of Olympic revenue when their accommodations are fair at best?
Like anyone curious about the mysteries of life, I checked Wikipedia. For me these were the only relevant facts: Sochi is located on the Black Sea and is Russia’s largest resort city. This tidbit of information raises so many questions. Sochi has a subtropical climate and there is a nearby ski resort. It looks beautiful, but what city doesn’t look gorge in the brochure?
Scholastic did a fantastic job of breaking the selection process down. The International Olympic Commission uses about 4 criteria to accept bids to host the games. As I was reading, I got to number 3 and spewed chunks of Haribo all over my computer monitor. “The cities need to maintain a highly positive media exposure to carry the games.” (Insert curse words here.)
I was done with this spectacle when the anti-gay propaganda started. The Olympics scream equality, unity, and acceptance, but are being held in a city and country where there may not be as much equality…. wait, never mind.
Then the stories of the issues in Sochi, dubbed “Sochi Problems”, which the officials in Russia would love us to believe are just vicious rumors and “propaganda”, started pouring in. The reports of unfinished hotel rooms and lobbies are the most publicized. I thought Sochi was Russia’s largest resort city. Resorts usually have plenty of hotel rooms, or no? Russia can get their hatred of certain groups together but building stuff is hard. Oh, okay.
I find it hilarious that Russian officials were pissed off enough with the unfinished hotel room reports to host a 3 hour tour for the media to dispute what we already know to be fact. Sochi, with their priorities in order as usual. What about the fact that there can be no expectations of privacy when it comes to Internet usage? A reporter with NBC, Richard Engel states that he was hacked “almost immediately.” How about the extermination of stray dogs as a step in preparing for the games? I won’t even touch the disorganization leading up to the Opening Ceremony.
Besides the anti-gay propaganda, I think the most irritating thing I read was the fact that there is not a Mosque in Sochi. It would be fine I guess if Islam was not a widely practiced religion being that prayer rooms have been provided in the Olympic Village, but this is not the case.
There are a reported 20,000 Muslims that live in Sochi. Some of which migrated to build the Olympic Villages. I’m sure these workers are compensated generously, (please read all the sarcasm this is dripping in) but why should they have to travel an estimated 2 ½ hours to a 1 room building to practice their religion?
Maybe the Olympics are not such a fairy tale. I always thought that the Olympics were a platform in which dreams come alive. Where all of the Gabby Douglas stories make us teary eyed and thirsty for more success stories. However, I can see that this year may be all about the money and making sure every country gets a slice of the Olympic profits, deserving or not. Well played IOC. Congratulations Sochi. Go Team USA, I guess.
By the way, I’m boycotting The Corner Store Games.